Fact Check: 'COVIDLAND' Episode 1 Does NOT Provide Proof Of Global Cabal's Machinations, Does Recycle Debunked Claims

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: 'COVIDLAND' Episode 1 Does NOT Provide Proof Of Global Cabal's Machinations, Does Recycle Debunked Claims Cabal Playlist

Does the first episode of "COVIDLAND" prove its claims that hospitals were not taxed by COVID-19 caseloads, death statistics were inflated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that the PCR test is unable to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus accurately? No, that's not true: Each of these claims, woven into the theory that a global cabal faked a pandemic, circulated in the early phases of the COVID-19 and has been refuted by publicly available evidence and by medical experts with clinical and lab experience with COVID. The viral outbreak, by October, 2021, killed more than 715,000 in the U.S, according to Oxford University's "Our World In Data" website.

The video montage of conspiracy theories is collected in a widely re-posted video posted to Banned.video on October 8, 2021, by discredited conspiracist Alex Jones, titled "COVIDLAND: The Lockdown" (archived here), which opened:

The latest release from Infowars is finally here! 'COVIDLAND' is a riveting and fast-paced movie made by award-winning filmmaker Paul Wittenberger and narrated by Alex Jones that's designed to break people out of their trance, see the big picture, and take our world back!

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COVIDLAND: The Lockdown

The latest release from Infowars is finally here! 'COVIDLAND' is a riveting and fast-paced movie made by award-winning filmmaker Paul Wittenberger and narrated by Alex Jones that's designed to break people out of their trance, see the big picture, and take our world back!

This fact check will address the claims to which the video devotes the most time, in order.

False Claim: Early in the pandemic, hospitals weren't struggling to cope with seriously ill patients

At the 11:43 mark of the video, narrator Alex Jones, who says the video is the first installment in a series, claims that while it was reported hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID patients, "citizen journalists visited many of the hot zones and uncovered they were remarkably calm. Entire parking lots were empty ..."

Lead Stories addressed these claims April 7, 2020, finding that the so-called citizen reporters did not get past the lobby of a single hospital. With elective surgery canceled and many hospital staffers sent home to quarantine, there was much less traffic in and out of hospitals. Actual emergency rooms, intensive care units and respiratory care center workspaces were never shown in the citizen journalist reports, nor were credible experts or hospital staff in positions of authority and knowledge interviewed. Lead Stories debunked those claims in: "Fact Check: COVID-19 Is NOT A Hoax Proven By Empty Hospital Lots, Waiting Rooms"

False Claim: COVID death statistics were manipulated by the federal government and by local medical examiners

At the 43:19 mark, Jones wraps up a 20-minute section by saying "The official COVID death count is willfully and grossly inaccurate."

He's following a section that starts about 20:04, with Del Bigtree, a "Big Steal" election conspiracy peddler and anti-vaccine film maker who was kicked off YouTube for spreading misinformation about COVID. Bigtree leads of this segment with a long-debunked false claim about CDC control over COVID death statistics, saying:

... around March 4th the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, changes the way that we calculate death of specifically coronavirus ...Remember corona virus is just amongst you know it's a family of viruses that are included in what we call the common cold ... why were we all of a sudden singling out one of these viruses and changing the way that we were going to calculate death?

Each state gathers its own statistics on deaths and causes of deaths from local medical examiners and coroners and reports those to the federal government, which sums them up in daily tallies. The CDC has no authority to dictate what coroners and medical examiners write on death certificates, Robert Anderson of the CDC's Mortality Statistics Branch explained in July 2020, when Lead Stories debunked similar claims in its July 27, 2020, fact check: "The CDC Does NOT Count Pneumonia And Seasonal Flu In The COVID-19 Toll".

No public record can be found that would support Bigtree's claim the federal government controls death certificates, nor that it changed the rules for COVID. In "Fact Check: CDC Did NOT Inflate COVID-19 Numbers And Did NOT Violate Federal Law In Providing Death Data Guide", Anderson spoke to Lead Stories via telephone on February 12, 2021, and explained that the CDC guidance for death reporting was not altered for COVID-19 deaths in 2020:

I was involved in the development of the 2003 guidelines. I was involved in the development of the COVID-19 guidance. They are the same. The reason why we emphasized COVID-19 and put out a COVID-19-specific guidance was to ensure these [deaths] were being reported in the proper way.

While Bigtree correctly reads CDC guidance to death certificate filers -- which says COVID infection should be noted on death certificates -- he neglects to explain standard certificates include cause of death and other health conditions that may or may not have caused death. Bigtree does not point out that death certificate statistics differentiate between dying with COVID and dying of COVID.

Bigtree goes on to claim motorcycle and gunshot deaths were lumped into the COVID death toll to inflate numbers.

But when COVID-deniers made those claims, Lead Stories investigated and found in "Fact Check: A Florida Motorcycle Death Is NOT Undermining The Accuracy Of State's Coronavirus Death Numbers" that in July 2020, a TV station erred in a web post and that the official cause of death was trauma from a crash, not COVID. Similarly, when Trump 2000 campaign adviser Brad Parscale claimed in July 2020 that a Florida child's shooting death was added to the COVID tally, Lead Stories talked to the medical examiners in all Florida counties with contemporaneous child shooting deaths and reported in "Fact Check: There Was NO Shooting Death Of A Child In Florida Counted As A COVID-19 Death" that there was no such death certificate filed.

False Claim: PCR testing is inaccurate and was used to jack up COVID case numbers and manufacture a pandemic

Jones says linguistic groundwork for faking a pandemic was laid before COVID was a known human threat, saying at 43:56:

... in the years prior. the legal definition of a pandemic was modified from requiring an enormous amount of deaths to being vaguely based on the worldwide prevalence of a disease. In other words, governments could technically engineer a pandemic using positive test results even from people without symptoms, which is precisely the scenario with COVID-19.

That is incorrect. There is no public record of a sudden revision of the standard definition and there are multiple pre-COVID instances of scholarly publications noting that "Pandemic" has no quantitative definition and instead merely means an infectious disease outbreak that moves across large areas, such as from continent to continent, which is the same definition that has been used to declare COVID-19 is a pandemic.

Jones then repeats, at 45:46 another debunked claim: that the words of the inventor of the PCR test prove it cannot accurately confirm or deny infections. With no evidence to support the claim, Jones says:

according to PhD Nobel-prize-winning scientist Kary Mullis, who's the doctor that created the PCR test, if you blow that PCR sample size up big enough you can see almost anything on anybody ... and so if you've ever been exposed to a coronavirus in the past whether it's a cold, a flu, a respiratory infection, that can show up on a PCR test.

Lead Stories checked the claim that PCR tests mistook flu for COVID and published: "Fact Check: It Is NOT True PCR Test Failed To Distinguish Flu From COVID And That CDC Dropped FDA Application Because Of Errors". Independent of the CDC, which said the test is an accurate way to check for COVID, a UCLA laboratory medicine expert said there were no issues with the accuracy of the test.

Mullis died August 7, 2019, long before the COVID pandemic and never spoke of its use to test for COVID.

But when other COVID-deniers challenged the PCR test's accuracy when there are more than 30 amplifications of DNA from swab samples, Lead Stories investigated and January 6, 2021 published "Fact Check: PCR Tests Do NOT Have An Accuracy of 0% When More Than 35 Cycles Are Used". In that fact check and others, Lead Stories found multiple relevant-expertise medical experts who shot down the statements Mullis had made as part of a years-long personal feud with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci. Mullis also famously claimed PCR could not be used to test for AIDS, which Mullis said was not a viral disease, a claim that has not aged well.

Dr. Bobbi Pritt, chair of the division of clinical microbiology at Mayo Clinic, in January 2021 told Lead Stories claims of PCR inaccuracy are off-base:

To say that there is a zero accuracy, that implies that the answer is wrong. Accuracy refers to whether it's right or wrong, like if I tell you it's a positive test and you don't have disease, then that would be a wrong statement. But if you have a PCR result that has a cycle threshold above 35, let's say, that doesn't mean it's wrong, it just means that the virus is present in very low levels.Those really high cycle threshold numbers may indicate people who are no longer infectious to others, but it doesn't mean that they don't have the virus.

Dr. Marie Landry, director of the Clinical Virology Laboratory at Yale New Haven Hospital, interviewed for the same fact check, offered the following explanation:

Studies have shown that SARS CoV-2 usually cannot be cultured if the cycle threshold is >33 ...It does not mean the PCR is not accurate. The PCR is detecting a low level of viral RNA. ... The vast majority of PCR results are accurate, including the very low positives.

Landry and Pritt were careful to say no test is perfect. PCR tests -- like all tests -- can produce false positives. Among other reasons, this may be because of poor test design, technical factors and a lack of expertise in performing the test.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.

  Dean Miller

Lead Stories Managing Editor Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University's Center for News Literacy for six years, then as Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. Most recently, he wrote the twice-weekly "Save the Free Press" column for The Seattle Times. 

Read more about or contact Dean Miller

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